Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne is pressing Iran to share the black boxes from the downed Ukrainian airliner that killed 57 Canadians on Jan. 8.
Back in Canada after meeting in Oman with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss the disaster that occurred near Tehran, Champagne said he is aware of media reports that Iran is backtracking on its pledge to share the flight recorders for independent analysis.
“When you say to the world you take full responsibility, that comes with consequences,” Champagne told reporters at the Liberal cabinet retreat in Winnipeg. “What I did say to the Iranian foreign minister is that the wish of Canada, the wish of the co-ordination group, is that the black [boxes] be sent quickly either to Ukraine or to France.
In light of new reports that suggest Iran may be waivering, Champagne reached out to his counterpart again today to make the point again.
“I wrote this morning to my Iranian counterpart to stress again the wish of Canada, the wish of the co-ordination group, and I would think the wish of the international community that the black [boxes] be sent where [they] should be sent,” he said.
The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted the head of the accident investigation board of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization Hassan Rezaeifar saying Iranian experts are examining the black boxes.
Black box backtrack?
“We are trying to read the black boxes here in Iran; otherwise, our options are Ukraine and France, but no decision has been taken so far to send them to another country,” the agency reported him saying.
The black boxes contain the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder and have information that is critical for understanding the sequence of events around the crash.
Iran has conceded it launched a missile attack that struck down the Ukrainian airliner on Jan. 8, killing all 176 passengers and crew members on board. There were 57 Canadians and 29 permanent residents of Canada among the dead.
Champagne said the repatriation process continues for the remains, and the wishes of the family are being respected on whether they want their loved ones to be returned to Canada or stay in Iran.
“In the interests of privacy, I won’t go into too much detail … but I can tell you that the wishes of the family are paramount and we will ensure this is the case in all cases,” he said.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government would provide $25,000 per victim to assist families in the aftermath of the disaster, while insisting Iran must provide compensation.
Canada and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since 2012.